The Hindu

UP banking on home advantage



Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will aim to get out of a midtable crisis when they meet in a Ranji Trophy Group B match at the Green Park here on Sunday.

Last year’s finalist Tamil Nadu’s progress has been low-key even though it has secured two outright wins and occupied the fifth spot with 16 points from five matches. It is high time Tamil Nadu, which managed just a point in its last rain-affected encounter against Andhra, picked up pace. Uttar Pradesh, sixth on 14 points, has two wins to flaunt as well. After toiling hard in


Mumbai last week, the side is keen to make the most of the home conditions. About 10 months ago, Tamil Nadu had defeated Uttar Pradesh in Chennai to propel its journey to the knockout stage. The story this time is different though.

Tamil Nadu has primarily banked on the consistent performanc­e of its spinners, leftarmers Rahil Shah and D.T. Chandrasek­har, and off-spinner M. Rangarajan. Besides, it has benefited from some valuable contributi­ons by pacers Aswin Crist and M. Mohammed, and allrounder J. Kousik.

The top-order batsmen have got good starts and some of them, including Baba Aparajith, Baba Indrajith and Dinesh Karthik, have played big knocks. While skipper Abhinav Mukund and Vijay Shankar are yet to live up to expectatio­ns, the long tail has provided a lot of comfort to the side.

On a dry track covered with grass here, Abhinav said he would field a fine combinatio­n of seamers and spinners. “We are well equipped for any condition.” With some up-and-coming players biding their time to settle down, the host has been caught in the web of hit-and-trial. It has reflected in Uttar Pradesh’s journey so far. Its batting line-up — with captain Suresh Raina, Tanmay Srivastava, Almas Shaukat, Himanshu Asnora and Eklavya Dwivedi — has the capability to punish the best of bowling attacks.

The home side’s bowling department, with pacers Praveen Kumar, Ankit Rajpoot and Amit Mishra, and spinners Piyush Chawla and the promising duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Saurabh Kumar, can pose a serious threat to any opposition.

If star seamer Bhuvneshwa­r Kumar, who was with the Indian side in Bengaluru, makes it to the playing XI, it will be the icing on the cake for Uttar Pradesh. “We tried a few things in the last game, which did not work. Since we are playing in home conditions, we will try to dominate,” said Raina.

The teams (from):

Uttar Pradesh: Suresh Raina (capt.), Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Tanmay Srivastava, Ankit Rajpoot, Amit Mishra, Umang Sharma, Eklavya Dwivedi (w/k), Kuldeep Yadav, Himanshu Asnora, Israr Mohammad, Almas Shaukat, Dipendra Pandey, Imtiaz Ahmed, Akshdeep Nath, Samar Singh, Bhuvneshwa­r Kumar, Saurabh Kumar.

Tamil Nadu: Abhinav Mukund (capt.), Baba Aparajith, Baba Indrajith, Dinesh Karthik (w/k), Vijay Shankar, R. Prasanna, M. Rangarajan, J. Kousik, M. Mohammed, Aswin Crist, L. Vignesh, K. Bharath Shankar, D.T. Chandrasek­ar, U. Sushil, Kaushik Gandhi, Shahrukh Khan. Match officials: Umpires: Amish Saheba and Umesh Dubey; Match

referee: Nitin Goel.

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